Category Archives: reviews

Whisker’s Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan by Carrie Carter Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman and her cat travel through Japan, each giving their own accounts of how each day’s events play out, in this fun travel fiction read, “Whisker’s Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan”, written by Carrie Carter.

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The Synopsis

Whiskers Abroad is a lively travelogue featuring a trip to Japan shared by two main characters, Audrey and her cat Ashi, who alternate recounting their versions of events. During a twelve-day trip, the pair visit several cities. Adventures abound. Audrey is still trying to find her place in the universe, while Ashi believes Audrey would sink beneath the waves were he not present to rescue her. Audrey’s daily horoscope offers tantalizing clues as to what’s in store for the pair. Written by Carrie Carter and designed by Stacy Vickers, Whiskers Abroad is both an amusing travel story with unforgettable characters and a useful guide for tourists going to Japan. Lavishly designed, Whiskers Abroad will delight both your eyes and your sense of adventure.

The Review

This was a fun, unique, and engaging story from the start. The author immediately distinguishes her story with the book’s unique format, with double pages that splash the almost diary-like passages of the main character’s inner dialogue and experiences. The beautiful artwork from illustrator Stacey Vickers showcases a depth of connection and relatability to the novel, as passages and pages range from daily horoscopes and personal anecdotes to experiences from the point of view of the Ashi, whose cynicism and realist nature is a perfect balance to Audrey’s sense of adventure and exploratory nature. 

Yet what was so fascinating to me was the way in which the author balanced the fictional side of this narrative with the more travel-based story forming on the pages. It felt as if the story could easily become a travel guide for those interested in Japan. The serenity, beauty, and tourism that the nation of Japan has to offer are perfectly paired with the culture and imagery that the book brings to life on the page.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, imaginative, and entertaining, author Carrie Carter’s “Whisker’s Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan” is a must-read travel and adventure fiction novel. The humor, the knowledge, and the imagery used to bring this story to life were both engaging and heartfelt in their delivery. If you haven’t yet, preorder your copy of this beautiful novel today or pick up your own copy on October 6th, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Carrie Carter always wanted to be a writer.  She started churning out short stories in the third grade. They all went like this: the main character, a young smart girl, noticed a suspicious person sneaking around in the dark. She investigated and ended up getting whacked in the head with a blunt object, only to wake up days later in a new location to discover everything was a simple miscommunication. Fortunately, Carrie managed to graduate from those narratives of concussions to the much more enjoyable readings about a traveling cat. Her debut novel, Whiskers Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan, is a combined guidebook with a travelogue and tales of cat adventures.  

Before writing and creating the book with her sister, Stacy Vickers, she moaned to all her friends about her lack of Ikigai (life’s purpose). She created a list of her personal likes and forced her friends to read it. They were supposed to be inspired and suggest the perfect career for her.  

The list had all the usual suspects, drinking coffee, not to be confused with making or serving coffee, petting cats, dining in hoity-toity restaurants, eating in hole in the walls, reading about infectious diseases, figuring out the nutritional content of a meal, and so on. Her sister suggested combining several of the ideas to create Whiskers Abroad. Cats, new foods, travel, Japan, and writing united? Bingo. 

At first, the book was going to be a spy novel with a cat as the main character, but Carrie knew nothing about espionage. She did know about traveling in Japan. She visited the country fourteen times with her husband, Jim. She once ran the Tokyo Marathon. The Whiskers Abroad concept solidified.

Carrie and Jim live in Houston with an adorable cat named Frenemy, who was unhappy at not being selected as the model for the book. They also play in the 80’s cover band she formed, Molly and the Ringwalds, which has been going strong for over twenty years. In addition to the keyboards, Carrie also plays the recorder and bagpipes.  

When not making music or writing fiction, she loves to cook at home, design/create Halloween costumes and daydream about meeting Jacques Pepin. She dislikes overly dramatic music in reality TV shows. Currently, Carrie is working on her second book, a sequel to Whiskers Abroad, where Ashi and Audrey explore further into Japan and get themselves into even more interesting predicaments.  

Carrie graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film.  She has several screenplays waiting for the right producer to come along.  

https://carriecarterwrites.com/

Death’s Intern (The Intern Diaries Book One) by D.C. Gomez Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman and retired army vet must decide whether she can take over a job working for Death herself in order to save a sea of lost souls (literally) in author D.C. Gomez’s “Death’s Intern”, the first book in the Intern Diaries series.

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The Synopsis

Discover the magic in this AMAZON BESTSELLER and see why thousands of readers love Isis.

Retired Army vet, Isis Black, lives in a small Texas town, a tiny dot on the map. The only friends she has are her coworkers at a Tex-Mex restaurant, the locals she serves, and a homeless man named Bob.

One evening after work, Death knocks at Isis’s apartment door. Death wears an expensive designer suit and four-inch heels. She has a curvaceous body, long, silky brown hair and mischief in her voice.

Isis is sure that she’s dreaming or has gone to hell for accidentally killing a man by knocking him off a crowded fire escape at a wild party. Death informs Isis that the man she killed was Death’s intern, and now Death needs Isis to take his place for the North American territory.

Somebody is stealing the souls that Death needs to transport to the afterlife. The intern’s job is to find out who is sabotaging Death’s efforts. Who better for the job than Isis – she’s lonely, bored and perfect – right down to her name. Death gives Isis three days to decide if she’ll take the job.

When her friend, Bob, goes missing, Isis is enraged. But is she willing to work with Death, a talking cat, and a boy-genius as her teammates to find Bob?
If she doesn’t help Death, will Bob, and homeless people across the country, die?

This is a story of courage and a chase to save humanity.

The Review

This was such a fun and exhilarating urban fantasy read! The author did a fantastic job of capturing the balance of action-packed drama and humorous wit that the character exuded. The action picks up immediately, setting the stage for a powerful narrative that explores the concept of death and the ways in which humanity tries to control our destinies. The rich mythology and world-building the author developed played out on the page in a very cinematic way, the writing kind of reflecting imagery that would bring any modern streaming series to life.

Yet it was the diverse and captivating character development that really caught my eye. The intense action was equally elevated and balanced with the humor and charm of the main cast of characters. While the protagonist was a truly well-rounded and strong new hero in an urban fantasy setting, it was the strong supporting cast that was really amazing to read. From Death herself to a talking cat named Constantine and a young tech whiz named Bartholomew, the author created characters that offered humor, wit, and emotional depth to keep us invested in the narrative. 

The Verdict

Haunting, action-packed, and entertaining, author D.C. Gomez’s “Death’s Intern” is a must-read urban fantasy novel and a brilliant start to the Intern Diaries series. The rich mythos and fast-paced action mixed with the heartfelt characters and a very engaging sense of imagery brought this incredible story to life, so be sure to grab your copy of this novel today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

D. C. Gomez is a USA Today Bestselling Author, born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. She study film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years.

Those experiences shaped her quirky sense of humor. D.C. has a love for those who served and the families that support them. She currently lives in the quaint city of Wake Village, Texas, with her furry roommate, Chincha.

New Life in Autumn by Michael G. Williams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A newly dead detective tries to find a group of missing children and solve the mysteries of the floating city of Autumn’s long-lost history in author Michael G. Williams’s “New Life in Autumn”. 

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The Synopsis

RETURN TO THE MEAN STREETS OF AUTUMN

Valerius Bakhoum is dead and buried.

Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent.

Unsure what to do with himself—and of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappeared from back alleys and other hiding places more than anyone realized. Street kids even had a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal urchins away in the night.

With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery: who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know Valerius is still alive?

Stalk the shadows of Autumn’s hidden places by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light on secrets both sacred and profane, ones with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

New Life in Autumn is the sequel to the Manly Wade Wellman Award-winning A Fall in Autumn.

The Review

What immediately struck me about this novel was just how much the setting of this floating city called Autumn felt so alive on the page. A beautiful blend of dystopian sci-fi meets fantasy and hard-boiled detective mysteries, the author found a way to make the city itself feel like a character all its own. The intrigue and drama that the author’s narrative brought forth kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

The character growth of this narrative was such an engaging aspect of the story. The protagonist was so versatile and complex, both emoting the tough-as-nails attitude one expects of a seasoned detective and showing the raw emotions and shock of experiencing death and rebirth all at once. The LGBTQ-forward romance and inspired character development made this story shine brightly as well, making for a rich and diverse dystopian read.

The Verdict

Gripping, captivating, and entertaining, author Michael G. Williams’s “New Life in Autumn” is a must-read novel! The action and mystery surrounding this story feel both classic and yet futuristic all at once, and the rich character development, both the protagonist and the city, in particular, make for an emotionally engaging and mind-blowing hook that keeps us readers invested in this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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A New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams has a new gay sci-fi mystery out, Books of Autumn book 2: A New Life in Autumn. And there’s a giveaway!

THE HARDEST PART OF DYING IS DECIDING HOW TO PASS THE TIME

Valerius Bakhoum died and kept no living. Now he can walk the streets of his city with a new face and a new name and finally feel a little bit respected. Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent. Unsure what to do with himself—and perhaps even of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappear from back alleys and other hiding places more than people realize. Street kids even have a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal them away in the night. With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery:

Who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know he’s still alive?

Return to the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light into shadowy corners and finds secrets both sacred and profane with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

Warnings: This book does involve mild violence, capture and impending torture by antagonists, and discussion of the murder of children.

About the Series:

What would you do if you found yourself free at last–and all alone–in the sin-drenched paradise you were told you’d never reach?

Books of Autumn is a series telling the story of Valerius Bakhoum, a down and out private eye in Autumn, last of the great flying Cities, at various points in his life.

In A Fall in Autumn (2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award), we meet Valerius as he winds down his career and his too-short life.

In New Life in Autumn, Valerius navigates a surprising second chance and questions of who he is–and who he might become.

Walk the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius’ side in this award-winning study of the kindness and compassion found in the places where humanity’s lowest ambitions lurk!

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Michael is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

New Life in Autumn meme

Across three quarters of the City of Autumn, street kids are an unthinkable paradox. For the most part, the Pluses and the PlusPlus and all the other manifold forms of intentional humankinds only ever run into the sorts of kids someone wanted badly enough to design. There are already a billion people in the world between the Empire, the Eastern Expanse, and the less-organized places nobody’s fought over quite yet. Having kids willy-nilly wouldn’t add up, not with so many people already in line for the breakfast bar. That’s one of the many objections the Spiralists put forward to continued cultivation of Artisanal Humans like me—well, like I was.

That’s going to take some getting used to.

Anyway, widespread cultural insistence on bespoke offspring leaves a lot of kids out in the cold, literally. The ones I described before, orphaned by chance or abandoned for turning out imperfect or who got tired of their old life and decided to chase a new one are, in the remaining fourth-to-fifth of the City, as common as cobblestones and just as underfoot. There are plenty of them, and the supply continually refreshes, and I went to distinctly other streets than theirs. It isn’t that I wanted to avoid them, but talking would have taken money or some sort of barter and I was too short by half on either. I suspected it would have generated too much information rather than too little. A street kid asked to tell a story for a steam bun or a little reliably spendable scrip will gin up all the story you want and then some. I didn’t need urban legends. I needed facts, and that meant a much more gruesome start than some urchin milking my wallet with tall tales of what goes bump in the night.

I mentioned to Clodia one time that I had a friend who worked the Cisterns. The City of Autumn is like any town: its people have to piss like anybody else and its gutters often swell with rain. Autumn routinely flies into weather systems to gather up fresh water, and there’s a vast infrastructure to purify it for use by humankinds. I could spend ten pages telling you about the ponds in Down Preserves where rainwater burbles and bubbles under pressure, mixing in fresh air. The whole City sleeps atop a bed stuffed with pumps and gravity lines, charcoal and scrub algae, grates and artificial reefs and purpose-built shrimp—but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll simply say this: by the time water gets to us, the only thing left is the scent of the air where it first fell as rain. I don’t understand how the process works. I don’t care, either. The important thing, the thing none of us think about too much in case it, too, is another pretty lie in the quilt of them we make over our lives, is it happens. Sip from Lotta’s to remember the dead, cup your hands in the fountains of Domino, turn on a tap in the average Autumn kitchen, and you’ll enjoy the aroma of a field somewhere in Afrique, or a mutant blossom somewhere on a nameless plain in the vast Recovery Zone between Big River and the Salt Flat.

But on the other end of the system? Once all that delicious water has run its course through bodies and beer kegs and ice machines and steam plants?

That’s called Cistern Intake. I knew a gal who worked that part of the system. You could smell it on her from ten meters away. I always felt sorry for her, because it was so baked into her skin, ground down into her pores, she didn’t even smell it anymore herself.

On the plus side, she always had plenty of room in a bar. Nobody crowded her for long.

Frankie was a Mannie. Generally speaking, no variety of Plus—nice, “normal” people with designer genes—would even be considered for her job. Even applying for it might result in getting a replication error assessment. Odds are good you’ve already heard the story from a few years ago about the PlusPlus whose big ideas on “lived egalitarianism” got her carted off for genotoxicity screening. What most folks don’t know, however, is it was a stunt on both sides. Sure, she only wanted to make a point by suing the City for the right to join a scrubber team, not actually take the job if they offered it. But the City went out of its way to make the counterpoint in response, escorting her kicking and screaming away from the workhouse where they keep the little gliders they use to clean the Fore Barrier’s external face.

I assume she hoped to drum up publicity for her so-called perverse beliefs. I think she expected the City would do something to make an example of her, sure, but something more symbolic. You know, a big fine she could never pay, or maybe a few nights in the Palace of Imperial Justice. Something Imperial media could print without making anybody lose their lunch.

Instead, they dragged her —did I mention the kicking and screaming?—straight to the Hive. No trial. No judge. No pretenses. The Hive is right there at the front of the City, and the tiny portion of it sticking out above street level is visible if you climb high enough in Down Preserves and look to the Fore. The joke goes, they put the City’s worst criminals out there so we’ll hear them screaming if we crash into anything. This lady’s worst crime, though, was trying to prove we’re not all equal, not in the lives we’re allowed to lead or the risks we’re expected to take in the course of them. It sounds like heroism to you or me, but to the powers that be, the Sinceres, the Spiralists, and all the other people who don’t care if the Empire is a heap of shit as long as they’re near enough the top to catch a breeze, she’d committed the worst kind of social treason: she’d violated the spoken and unspoken rules propping up the class system on which they relied.


Author Bio

New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams writes queer-themed science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror celebrating monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He’s the author of three series for Falstaff Books: the award-winning vampire/urban fantasy series The Withrow Chronicles; the thrilling urban fantasy series SERVANT/SOVEREIGN featuring real estate, time travel, and San Francisco’s greatest historical figures; the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn, winner of the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award; and a bunch of short stories. He strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.

Michael will be the Guest of Honor at Ret-Con in 2023, co-hosts Arcane Carolinas, studies Appalachian history and folklore at Appalachian State University, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, a variety of animals, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.

Author Website: https://michaelgwilliamsbooks.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/mcmanlypants

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGWilliamsAuthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcmanlypants

Author Instagram: https://instagram.com/mcmanlypants

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6429992.Michael_G_Williams

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/michael-g-williams/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-G-Williams/e/B001KIYBBU/

Other Worlds Ink logo

Save the World: Twenty Sci-Fi Writers Save the Planet (Writers Save the World) Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Twenty sci-fi authors come together to tackle the very real threat of climate change and use their creative skills to find a solution to our current and future threats to our world in the collection “Save the World: Twenty Sci-Fi Writers Save the Planet”, part of the Writers Save the World Series!

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The Synopsis

Twenty ways to fix the planet.

Modern building on the island.3d render

Climate change is no longer a vague future threat. Forests are burning, currents are shifting, and massive storms dump staggering amounts of water in less than 24 hours. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to save the world from climate change. From the myriad of stories we received, we chose the twenty most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change via solar mirrors, carbon capture, genetic manipulation, and acts of change both large and small.

The future’s not going to fix itself.

The Review

This was a fantastic and highly creative collection. The themes of climate change and the impact it’ll have on everything from worldwide pandemics to coastal cities being overrun and so much more were thought-provoking, to say the least. The imagery and detailed storytelling that went into the narrative really painted an image in the reader’s mind. 

What stuck out in each story in this collection was each author’s ability to naturally infuse the themes of this narrative into their stories and still manage to implement a very human and emotional depth of character into each story. From a young woman seeking more of not only her life but the life of everyone on Earth, to a teenage boy separated from his mother and forced to make a new home for himself, each story adds so much emotion and heart to the more broad climate struggles that make this such an engaging story.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, entertaining, yet striking in its delivery, the short story collection “Save the World: Twenty Sci-Fi Writers Save the Planet” is a must-read book and a great continuation of the Writers Save the World Series! The balance of emotional character growth and stark yet hopeful themes of climate change and the progress needed to fix it all make this one collection readers won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Save the World cover

Other Worlds Ink has a new book out in the hopepunk cli-fi Writers Save the World anthology series: Save the World. And there’s a giveaway.

Climate change is no longer a vague future threat. Forests are burning, currents are shifting, and massive storms dump staggering amounts of water in less than 24 hours. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to save the world from climate change. From the myriad of stories we received, we chose the twenty most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change via solar mirrors, carbon capture, genetic manipulation, and acts of change both large and small.

The future’s not going to fix itself.

About the Series:

“Writers Save the World” is an annual hopepunk anthology from Other Worlds Ink, featuring hopeful stories by sci-fi writers about ways to solve the world’s problems.

Universal Buy Link | Liminal Fiction | Goodreads


Giveaway

Other Worlds Ink is giving one lucky winner their choice of $25 Starbucks GC or a $25 donation to the Sierra Club in the winner’s name:

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Excerpt

Save the World Meme

No one ate for a full day. At night, they sat around their fires and counted the stars, their boats bobbing in the quiet, dark waters. No electricity was permitted. The drones were shelved. The holo-projectors unplugged. Even the radios were shut off. The next morning, they washed in the invigorating cold of the ocean, and beat their bodies with branches.

This was what Edgard instructed. And what Edgard instructed, everyone obeyed.

The waters seemed bright that morning, despite the depths below. Small dots of sea foam dotted the surface, reflecting the eager light of the new day. The weather was calm, and the ocean peaceful. It was an auspicious morning.

Jason leaned against the rails, elbowing between his crew mates as everyone shuffled for the best view. There was laughter and chatter, some singing, a few rude jokes. The ocean was alive that morning, all the ships of the tribe lining up, energy buzzing across the wide decks.

Then the drumming started, and silence fell. People leaned forward, craning necks.

The canoe emerged from between boats, paddled by a small crew, its painted bow slicing through the water. At the front was Edgard, standing tall. Jason felt someone nudge him, and as he looked over at Amelia, she nodded at the cloak draped over Edgard’s shoulders. The Thunderbird.

The canoe stopped, and Edgard placed a hand in the water. As he rose, he started to sing, lighting a bundle of dried cedar, and waving the smoke over his harpoon. He removed the muscle-shell hooks and wrapped them in cloth, tied rocks around the yew shaft, and placed it in the water. As it sank, his song ended. Edgard turned to face the ships, opened his arms wide, and smiled.

The crews erupted.

It was done.

The harvesting was complete.

—From “Thunder on the Ocean,” by Christopher R. Muscato


Author Bio

Gustavo Bondoni is novelist and short story writer with over three hundred stories published in fifteen countries, in seven languages. He is a member of Codex and an Active Member of SFWA. His latest novel is Lost Island Rampage (2021). He has also published three other monster books: Ice Station: Death (2019), Jungle Lab Terror (2020) and Test Site Horror (2020), three science fiction novels: Incursion (2017), Outside (2017) and Siege (2016) and an ebook novella entitled Branch. His short fiction is collected in Pale Reflection (2020), Off the Beaten Path (2019) Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011).

J. Scott Coatsworth lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends. A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and the head of its self-publishers committee.

Rachel Hope Crossman is an ex-fry cook, ex-substitute teacher and retired Montessori teacher. Her childhood year in Athens, Greece left indelible imprints of olive groves, pomegranates and the sparkling, turquoise blue of the Mediterranean upon her mind. She is the author of SAVING CINDERELLA: FAIRY TALES & CHILDREN IN THE 21ST CENTURY, (2014) The Apocryhile Press, which examines the world-wide Cinderella story as an archetype and explains the symbolism of rings, knives, birds, pumpkins and more. Her personal heroes are Harold (and his purple crayon), Peggy Hill and Nancy Pelosi.

Jana Denardo is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.

Derek Des Anges is an emerging cross-genre author working in London, who consistently fails to stick to a single format or genre but does at least really consistently write about the queer experience (or some of them, anyway). He’s into fungi, industrial and experimental music, and trying to avoid the climate apocalypse actually flooding his flat too many times, because he has far too many books to consider moving out.

CJ Erick’s stories have appeared in anthologies from WMG Publishing, WordFire Press, and others. He won the FenCon short story competition in 2015. He writes in multiple genres, publishes novels in a space fantasy series, and dabbles in poetry. He’s an MFA student in creative writing at Lindenwood University, and an editorial assistant for the Lindenwood Review. He lives in Dallas area with his wife and their rescue superhero dog Saber-Girl, calls his sourdough bread starter “Ursula” (K. Le Guin), and cooks crazy-good Cajun food for a Midwest Yankee.

J.G. Follansbee’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including Others Worlds Ink’s Fix the World. Other publications include Bards and Sages Quarterly, Children, Churches and Daddies, the collection Still Life 2018, and the speculative fiction anthologies Satirica, After the Orange, Spring Into SciFi 2019, Rabbit Hole II, and Sunshine Superhighway. He is the author of the series Tales From A Warming Planet and the trilogy The Future History of the Grail. He has won several awards in the Writers of the Future contest, and he was a finalist in the inaugural Aftermath short story contest. He also has numerous non-fiction book credits. He lives in Seattle.

Geoffrey Hart: Startled by an aggressive dictionary late in her pregnancy, Geoff’s mother was delivered of a child with a precocious antipathy towards users of words. Over time, he transformed this antipathy into a more functional, if equally passive-aggressive, editorial career. After nearly 35 years, the flame burns brightly as ever, leading to an errant, semi-evangelical career ranting against the evils of words from pulpits at any editing or technical writing conference that will have him, seeking new recruits for his cause. In his spare time, he roams the globe, entertaining locals with creative and unrestrained interpretations of their linguistic conventions. He also commits occasional fictions, and has sold 46 stories.

M. J. Holt lives with her husband on their 60-acre family farm with many animals on a peninsula in Puget Sound. She is horrified that the entire world isn’t working to decrease pollution of all kinds. When she was a teenager, she and her mother sat under an ancient crabapple tree and read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Her mother told her that future generations would pay the price for the sins of past generations. That price has increased and now several generations later, some not yet born, will pay the price. Lightning struck that crab tree decades ago. It grew on land her great grandfather bought in 1892. Her great grandmother farmed the land and had the current house, started in 1900, built. The farm passed to her grandfather, and then to her mother. She lives in that house amid the surviving bits of her ancestors’ lives. This generational continuity informs her fiction. Her crime thriller novels, The Devil’s Safe (2021) and its sequel Making Angels (2022) can be found on Amazon. Recent short stories have appeared in the anthologies Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day: An Anthology of Hope, Low Down Dirty Vote Volume II, Alternate Theologies, and her poetry may be found in the poetry anthologies 300K, Timeless Love, and other periodicals. She earned separate undergraduate degrees in History and English Literature, and a Masters in English Literature. She is a member of SFWA, MWA, and other writing organizations.

Jennifer Irani lives and works in southern California. Her story, “Graft,” was inspired by the recent fires in California, Greta Thunberg, and generation Z. A version of this story first appeared in Writing in Place: Stories from a Pandemic. Her work has been published in the anthology Dove Tales Empathy in Art: Embracing the Other. She has published essays in Orange Coast magazine. Her essay, Regeneration, received honorable mention in the Writers Challenge 2021 on Medium.com. Her poem, “Cool Colors Warm the Soul,” was selected for the Connecting Through Color, Art and Poetry exhibit. She is a member of Barbara Demarco’s Literary Posse.

Andrew Rucker Jones was born and raised in Falls Church, Virginia. No muse heralded his birth, and he has not been writing novels since he was in diapers. He received his Bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University in mathematics with minors in computer programming and German. He has always loved reading, so when the time came to choose a new career after twenty years in IT (programmer, system administrator, manager), he decided writing looked like fun. If only it paid. He now lives in Mannheim, Germany, with his Georgian wife, who actually earns money, and their three children, the eldest of whom also earns more than he.

Micháel McCormick likes to write stories in his Batman pajamas. He and his wife also enjoy travel, hiking, Tai Chi, and perplexing cats. They split their time between Saint Paul, Minnesota and Lake Superior. Mike’s work has appeared in Arcanist, Daily SF, DreamForge, Frozen Wavelets, Grievous Angel, Metastellar, Talking Stick, and elsewhere.

Christopher R. Muscato is an adjunct history instructor and writer from Colorado, as well as the former writer-in-residence for the High Plains Library District. He has published over a dozen short stories and is thrilled to be a part of this project.

Masimba Musodza was born in Zimbabwe, and has lived most of his adult life in the United Kingdom. His short stories, mostly in the speculative fiction genre, have appeared in periodicals and anthologies around the world. He has written two novels and a novella in his first language, ChiShona. His collection of science-fiction stories, The Junkyard Rastaman & Other Stories, was published in 2020. Masimba also writes for stage and screen.

M.D. Neu: Growing up in an accepting family. internationally award-winning author M.D. Neu always wondered why there were never stories reflecting our diverse queer society. Surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, he decided to change that and began writing, wanting to tell epic stories that reflect our varied world. When not writing, M.D. Neu works for a non-profit in Silicon Valley, and travels with his husband of twenty plus years.

Jennifer R. Povey: Born in Nottingham, England, Jennifer R. Povey now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for Analog. She has written a number of novels across multiple sub genres. Additionally, she is a writer, editor, and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.

NRM Roshak is an award-winning Canadian author and translator. Their stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Galaxies SF, Daily Science Fiction, and Future Science Fiction Digest, and has been translated into several languages. They live in Ontario, Canada, with a small family and a loud cat.

Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes.

Lisa Short is a Texas-born, Kansas-bred writer of fantasy, science fiction and horror. She has an honorable discharge from the United States Army, a degree in chemical engineering, and twenty years’ experience as a professional engineer. Lisa currently lives in Maryland with her husband, two youngest children, father-in-law and cats. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a Futurescapes 2021 alumnus.

Heather Marie Spitzberg is an environmental author, scientist, and lawyer who lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley with her family. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Doctor Jekyll: Alien Hunter by Bruce Olav Solheim Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman following in her father’s footsteps as an investigator of extraterrestrial life finds herself delving into the realities of life and death in author Bruce Olav Solheim’s “Doctor Jekyll: Alien Hunter.” 

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The Synopsis

Dr. Jekyll Alien Hunter chronicles the adventures of Henna Jekyll, a professor who is following in her father’s footsteps in researching extraterrestrials. Her research takes her around the world where she discovers the hazy boundaries between life and death, and reality and dream.

The Review

This was a fun and fascinating read! The author did an incredible job of crafting a narrative that brought the intrigue of the study of the paranormal and UFO-related activity in our world with the emotional and impactful study of relationships and how we connect with one another. As a paranormal investigator and enthusiast myself, I was floored by how much the author delved into the interconnectivity that seems to exist between various fields of study (cryptozoology, paranormal, Ufology, spirituality, etc), and how much detail the author was able to incorporate into the narrative in a very natural way.

Yet it was the characters that made the heart of this graphic novel shine so brightly. The emotional connection made between Henna’s search for answers and her late father and mother was something so many people will be able to connect with. The emotional concept that this mystery and intrigue that exists when talking about the paranormal makes this story so engaging, as it allows readers to recognize it isn’t always about proving the truth to others, but instead knowing your own truth and understanding every answer we find, more and more questions will arise, and that’s ok. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, entertaining, and gripping, author Bruce Olav Solheim’s “Doctor Jekyll: Alien Hunter” is a must-read sci-fi meets paranormal graphic novel! The beautiful artwork from illustrator Julia Kazanowska and the amount of depth that was achieved narratively in such a short span of time made for a compelling and riveting read that cannot be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Bruce Olav Solheim was born on September 3, 1958, in Seattle, Washington, to hard-working Norwegian immigrant parents, Asbjørn and Olaug Solheim. Bruce was the first person in his family to go to college. He served for six years in the US Army as a jail guard and later as a helicopter pilot. He earned his PhD in history from Bowling Green State University in 1993.

Bruce is currently a distinguished professor of history at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He also served as a Fulbright professor in 2003 at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway.

Bruce founded the Veterans Program at Citrus College and cofounded, with Manuel Martinez and Ginger De Villa-Rose, the Boots to Books transition course—the first college course in the United States designed specifically for recently returned veterans. He has published five books and has written seven plays, two of which have been produced.

Bruce is married to Ginger, the girl of his dreams, who is a professional helicopter pilot and certified flight instructor. He has been blessed with four wonderful children: Bjørn, Byron, Caitlin, and Leif. He also has a precious grandson, Liam. Bruce, his brother, and his two nephews still own the family home in Åse, Norway, two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle.

https://www.bruceolavsolheim.com/

Duatero by Brad C. Anderson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A soldier and his team must take a final stand to protect Earth’s abandoned colony of Duatero from a deadly ecosystem that poisons crops and turns humans into mindless monsters in author Brad C. Anderson’s “Duatero”.

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The Synopsis

Majstro Falchilo Kredo has devoted his life to protecting the abandoned earth colony of Duatero from Malamiko, the indigenous ecosystem that makes their crops fail and whose contamination turns humans into mindless monsters. But Malimiko is changing, becoming more dangerous, more aware, even as the ancient technology they use to combat fails piece by precious piece. Kredo and his fellow soldiers must risk everything or see all they hold precious wiped away and forgotten. Kredo is prepared to sacrifice himself—and anyone around him—to do his duty. But what if the price demanded is even higher?

The Review

The author did such a great job of crafting a vivid and unique world. The story of Duatero was mesmerizing, bringing the study of society and how it evolves (or doesn’t evolve) over time in response to the natural dangers of a world to life. The natural character growth and dialogue let both familiar yet unique to the narrative, as the speech and dialogue of the characters felt unique to the characters and their world, and yet the camaraderie and the personal issues they face also felt realistic and something that people could relate to if they were in a similar situation, making these characters very relatable. 

The world-building and mythos of this world were what really stole the show here. The way the author was able to create a threat and danger that dwelled not in the minds and hearts of mankind solely, but in the natural ecosystem of an entire planet, was a great way to explore the biology of the sci-fi genre and the language and terminology that the characters used highlighted the rich mythos that was developed for this science fiction meets dystopian adventure. 

The Verdict

Haunting, action-packed, and entertaining, author Brad C. Anderson’s “Duatero” is a must-read sci-fi dystopian read of 2022. A unique and creative tale, the rich characters that are both flawed yet highly emotional in their delivery and the impact this harsh world has on those surviving in this lost colony create an engaging story that will have readers drawn into the narrative wholeheartedly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Brad C. Anderson lives with his wife and puppy in Vancouver, Canada. He teaches undergraduate business courses at a local university and researches organizational wisdom in blithe defiance of the fact most people do not think you can put those two words in the same sentence without irony. Previously, he worked in the biotech sector where he made drugs for a living (legally!).

His stories have appeared in a variety of publications. His short story, Naïve Gods, was longlisted for a 2017 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. It was published in the anthology Lazarus Risen, which was itself nominated for an Aurora Award.

Life in Slake Patch by Mandy Eve-Barnett Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young man in a society where the sexes are separated heavily finds a look into their world’s past and into a new way of life in author Mandy Eve-Barnett’s “Life in Slake Patch”.

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The Synopsis

Page after page revealed a life unthinkable. Evan could not imagine the possibilities. Images of men and women with children sitting, eating, and playing together in strange dwellings, so different from their log structures. Some made of a smooth, consistently shaped stone of sorts, while others towered above ground with shiny, gleaming surfaces. There were no words to express the amazement. Surely, these pictures were the wild imaginings of a person possessed; they could not be true – especially compared to life in Slake Patch.

Evan’s first exposure to this inconceivable life was through a trusted friend and mentor, Jacob. Shared through the secretive exploration of banned books and creative storytelling, Evan internalized the great tales of fantasy. Life prior to the Grand War was lived differently. Change came to the world due to that drastic event thus calling for extreme measures. Wise old Jacob could see the Grand War as reason enough for society to evolve in a fundamental way.

Intrigued by the stories and burdened by the concepts he found to be desirable, Evan’s existence comes into question when he sees that maybe these unbelievable truths—things of the past—weren’t all that bad…

The Review

This was such a wonderful and inventive narrative. The exploration of a society in a world in which the sexes are not only divided, but women are much more protected and revered in their society. Families are divided as well by the gender gap, and a discovery of what was once a family unit in an old book by the main character and his mentor, a lifelong journey of discovery and change is found. The character growth and interactions were both original and unique to this world and kept the reader engaged in this story.

Yet it was the world-building that truly draws the reader into the narrative immediately. The mythos and originality that the author pours into this world are phenomenal, as are the ways in which this world impacts the character’s growth. I even love the detail the author puts into this world-building, as the unique hierarchy that this society builds impacts everything from politics and the ruling body of their world to how they build relationships with one another and the ways in which the fabric of their society are stitched together are closely examined in this reading.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, imaginative, and entertaining, author Mandy Eve-Barnett’s “Life in Slake Patch” is a must-read novel. The alt-history fiction tale is one of the more original tales I’ve read in recent years in this genre, and the way the author uses strong imagery and a mysterious atmosphere to build this world were truly inspiring. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mandy currently lives in Alberta, Canada but is originally from England. Her background is diverse and gives her rich experience to utilize in her writing. Mandy has been a nursing professional, a business owner, and a sort after administration expert. She has traveled throughout Europe, parts of America and Canada and was born in Africa.

Mandy is passionate about writing to the point of obsession and she succeeded in becoming a published author in record time. Mandy’s venture into freelance writing has been successful and she regularly contributes to Strathcona Connect, an e-zine and the Never Been Better page in the Sherwood Park newspaper as well as well as holding the position of Secretary for her local writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. She is also Secretary of Alberta Authors Cooperative.

Writing in various genres, Mandy has been published in anthologies, on numerous web sites as well as regularly blogging about her writing journey.

https://mandyevebarnett.com/

Vendetta (The Mimosa Tales Book Four) by Linda Thackeray Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A local lawman hoping to put his past behind him finds that past coming back with a vicious campaign of terror in author Linda Thackeray’s “Vendetta”, the fourth book in the Mimosa Tales series.

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The Synopsis

Decades ago, Marshal Kris Jensen brought a man to justice.

Now his past is threatening everyone he holds dear…

Determined to put the tragedies of his life behind him, Kris Jensen tentatively courts community leader Holly Davis in the hopes of settling down. For Kris, Holly is the promise of a settled, peaceful life – something he now very much wants.

But when a hail of bullets unleashed in the night begins a campaign of terror that threatens Kris’s hopes for the future and the lives of everyone around him. As his friends reel from a reputation-damning scandal to a near-fatal shooting and vicious assault, Kris desperately tries to find his secret enemy before everything he loves is taken away.

Can Kris protect his loved ones and lay the tortured ghosts of his past to rest?

The Review

This was definitely the author’s most personal journey yet for the cast of characters. The rich environment and setting the author builds up in this novel and the imagery the writing deploys really bring the town of Mimosa and the surrounding area to life in a wonderful way. The captivating mystery surrounding Kris as a character and what his past truly was has been something hinted at throughout the series, but this book pays off all of the reader’s waiting as twists and turns of his story finally start to reveal themselves.

It was the characters that really drove this narrative home. The genius way in which the author not only delved into Kris’s past but his present, from the loss of his family and the enemies he made during one mission, to the love he found in this new home he helped build made the story shine so brightly. Alex was a welcome addition to the team, as the themes of feminism and social identities were explored with her arrival into town, and she added strength made for some great new character developments for others in the cast.

The Verdict

Gripping, awe-inspiring, and engaging on a very personal level for the characters, author Linda Thackeray’s “Vendetta” is a must-read book and the perfect addition to the Mimosa Tales saga. The twists in this novel will have readers hooked, and the pacing was fast-paced enough to keep readers invested until the final page plays out. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in a village in Malaysia and delivered by underpaid midwife, and Ann, an irritable new mother (who wouldn’t be after 48 hours in labour?), X was named by a deranged grandmother with too much creativity for her own good. Once out of her pain-induced stupor, Ann decided to give her new daughter a proper middle name to avoid the risk of being put into a home later in life.

And so, she was called Linda.

Linda was an unremarkable child, save a few notable incidents, the discovery that a pot lid is not a substitute for Wonder Woman’s tiara (five stitches), four-year old don’t need to shave (no stitches but lots of toilet paper) and utility truck drivers are not necessarily qualified operators of their vehicles (seventy stitches).

At eight, Linda received religious enlightenment when she saw Star Wars at the Odeon Theatre and hence began her writing career.

For many years, the cages of various pets in the Thackeray household were littered with pages from Linda’s scribblings. Subjects usually ranged from whatever science fiction show was on television or at the movies. There was lots of Star Wars.

At 17, Linda moved to Sydney, Australia and was disappointed it was not occupied by Paul Hogan types with big knives and croc skin jackets but pot-bellied blokes with zinc cream and terry towel hats. Linda’s father (also known as that bloke who buys me stuff to piss mum off when she’s mad at him) settled in the town of Young, a community of 6000 people with no movie theatre.

Linda survived this period in the wilderness by raising kangaroos and writing original works but eventually got saddled down with the necessities of life and though she continued to write, work came first. Work, HBO, comic books and rent. It’s a kaleidoscope.

Even the kangaroos left out of boredom.

In 2014, Linda decided to start writing seriously again. Mostly because Australia’s strict gun laws make it very difficult to ‘go postal’ in the workplace. Moving to Woy Woy, which is Aboriginal for ‘Big Water’, she’s dipped her toes into the Indie pool and found she needs a pedicure. Her books are labours of love and championed by her friends on Facebook.

Eventually Creativia Publishers, appalled by Linda’s inability to conduct any marketing, offered to publish her books out of sheer exasperation.

Supported by two cats named Newt and Humphrey, she spends her days trying to write novels while having unclean thoughts about Michael Fassbender and Jason Statham, sometimes together.

https://lindathackeray.wixsite.com/authorsite?fbclid=IwAR0nXB5-qWWI2JRHUM7FxleTQGctra5DXOxDIN7qKCc7szzlSteutgTCKbY

Owl Canyon (The Mimosa Tales Book Three) by Linda Thackeray Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A ragtag group of heroes finds themselves facing a terror that no one could have seen coming as something awakens deep inside of a series of caverns, with an insatiable hunger, in author Linda Thackeray’s “Owl Canyon”, the third book in The Mimosa Tales.

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The Synopsis

A lone survivor with a monstrous story to tell.

An enemy too monstrous to imagine.

Kris Jensen is sure he has seen it all as a lawman and now as the Marshal of Mimosa. Outlaws, shootouts, stagecoach robberies, and a renegade army, none of it surprises him anymore. Until word reaches him about a convoy of missing homesteaders lost in the Organ Mountains.

Kris and his men are led to Owl Canyon, a place even the fearless Apache avoid. They find six-year-old Heather with a story capable of sending chills through them all. Something is lurking within the catacombs deep beneath the canyon, and it’s hungry.

Joining them to remind him of his grifter past is Adrian’s old friend Calvin Chance who may have an answer to the mystery.

The newest chapter of The Mimosa Tales takes Kris and his friends on their scariest adventure so far. Will they survive, or will they be devoured by the evil secret hidden within Owl Canyon?

The Review

This was a truly captivating and chilling entry into the Mimosa Tales saga. The author did a great job of maintaining the gritty nature of the old west genre while also delving deeper into more horror elements in this narrative. As a fan of mythology and horror, I know that the old west was and still is filled with untold legends and myths that both the Native Americans who once populated the area and settlers alike discovered centuries ago and the author really did an incredible job of capturing the essence of that atmosphere and tone.

I loved the author’s ability to craft memorable characters and highlight the culture and reality of life in the west in this era while also providing an entertaining narrative. The exploration of Kris and Flynn’s friendship in the wake of book 2’s events was engaging to read, and the exploration of cultural identity and how the consequences of a people’s actions could impact another group of people so painfully was richly explored in this narrative.

The Verdict

Haunting, captivating, and entertaining, author Linda Thackeray’s “Owl Canyon” is a must-read western and slightly horror novel in the Mimosa Tales series. The shocking twists and turns the narrative takes and the harsh realities of the Old West made this a truly memorable reading experience. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in a village in Malaysia and delivered by underpaid midwife, and Ann, an irritable new mother (who wouldn’t be after 48 hours in labour?), X was named by a deranged grandmother with too much creativity for her own good. Once out of her pain-induced stupor, Ann decided to give her new daughter a proper middle name to avoid the risk of being put into a home later in life.

And so, she was called Linda.

Linda was an unremarkable child, save a few notable incidents, the discovery that a pot lid is not a substitute for Wonder Woman’s tiara (five stitches), four-year old don’t need to shave (no stitches but lots of toilet paper) and utility truck drivers are not necessarily qualified operators of their vehicles (seventy stitches).

At eight, Linda received religious enlightenment when she saw Star Wars at the Odeon Theatre and hence began her writing career.

For many years, the cages of various pets in the Thackeray household were littered with pages from Linda’s scribblings. Subjects usually ranged from whatever science fiction show was on television or at the movies. There was lots of Star Wars.

At 17, Linda moved to Sydney, Australia and was disappointed it was not occupied by Paul Hogan types with big knives and croc skin jackets but pot-bellied blokes with zinc cream and terry towel hats. Linda’s father (also known as that bloke who buys me stuff to piss mum off when she’s mad at him) settled in the town of Young, a community of 6000 people with no movie theatre.

Linda survived this period in the wilderness by raising kangaroos and writing original works but eventually got saddled down with the necessities of life and though she continued to write, work came first. Work, HBO, comic books and rent. It’s a kaleidoscope.

Even the kangaroos left out of boredom.

In 2014, Linda decided to start writing seriously again. Mostly because Australia’s strict gun laws make it very difficult to ‘go postal’ in the workplace. Moving to Woy Woy, which is Aboriginal for ‘Big Water’, she’s dipped her toes into the Indie pool and found she needs a pedicure. Her books are labours of love and championed by her friends on Facebook.

Eventually Creativia Publishers, appalled by Linda’s inability to conduct any marketing, offered to publish her books out of sheer exasperation.

Supported by two cats named Newt and Humphrey, she spends her days trying to write novels while having unclean thoughts about Michael Fassbender and Jason Statham, sometimes together.

https://lindathackeray.wixsite.com/authorsite?fbclid=IwAR0nXB5-qWWI2JRHUM7FxleTQGctra5DXOxDIN7qKCc7szzlSteutgTCKbY